The all-formats team of photographer Bernat Armangue, video journalist Renata Brito, chief Madrid correspondent Aritz Parra, photographer Mosa'ab Elshamy, freelance video journalist Houda Benalla and freelance photographer Javier Fergo alertly put AP out front of a burgeoning migration crisis on both sides of the Spain-Morocco border.
While much of the world focused on the conflict in Gaza, Parra noticed something unusual on May 17: Dozens of migrants had entered Ceuta, Spain, that morning by swimming from Morocco. Usually, migrants seeking to enter Ceuta — in Spanish territory in North Africa — do so by climbing the border fence in small groups, evading the Moroccan security forces that keep would-be migrants away from the frontier. Parra filed a brief story and flagged it to other formats. Additional reporting confirmed something bigger was brewing, with the Moroccan authorities relaxing border security amid a diplomatic dispute.
The rest of the team quickly responded, capturing riveting images of migrants swimming ashore by the thousands as Spain deployed troops and armored personnel carriers. Video coverage, both live and edited, showed migrants, including children, being rounded up on the beach and immediately returned to Morocco through a border gate by baton-wielding Spanish soldiers. There were also dramatic photos from the Moroccan side of the border, giving AP comprehensive coverage from both sides of the humanitarian crisis.
Play for the story was tremendous. The video edits scored heavily and Armangue’s photos landed on news sites and in newspapers around the world, including in Spain, where the top papers used his photos on the front page two days in a row. His photo of a young migrant hugging a Red Cross volunteer on the beach went viral in social media and became perhaps the most iconic image of the crisis.